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Atlanta United vs. Los Angeles FC Betting Prediction: MLS Odds, Picks, Preview (August 15)

Atlanta United vs. Los Angeles FC Betting Prediction: MLS Odds, Picks, Preview (August 15) article feature image

David Kirouac/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images. Pictured: Josef Martinez.

  • Atlanta hosts LAFC on Sunday afternoon, looking to pick up consecutive wins for the first time this season.
  • LAFC, meanwhile, are struggling, on the brink of three consecutive losses for the first time since 2017.
  • Ian Quillen explains below why he thinks there's reason to back Atlanta as a home underdog.

Atlanta vs. LAFC Odds

Atlanta Odds+180
LAFC Odds+138
Over/Under2.5 (-175 / +125)
Day | TimeSunday | 4 p.m. ET
How To WatchESPN | fuboTV
Odds updated Saturday evening via DraftKings.

Fresh off the reveal of their new manager, Atlanta United look for their first back-to-back wins of the season when they host LAFC on Sunday.

While Atlanta introduced new permanent boss Gonzalo Pineda this Thursday, interim manager Rob Valentino will remain in charge for the next two games following a 3-2 win at Columbus a week ago.

Meanwhile, LAFC are looking to avoid their first three-match losing streak in club history since they began play in 2017.

It’s a five-match winless run for the visitors overall, including most recently a 4-1 home loss to Sporting Kansas City and a 2-1 defeat at San Jose.

Atlanta Have Hit Stride Post Manager Change

Valentino deserves credit for his role in helping United take five points from their last five games, with the two losses in that stretch coming by a single goal and four of those games coming on the road.

It’s also true that Atlanta’s roster is simply much closer to full strength since Gabriel Heinze’s dismissal.

Some of the roster shortages Heinze experienced were self-imposed. There was his feud with club all-time scoring leader Josef Martinez, and his reportedly near-maniacal obsession with fitness that may have resulted in overuse injuries.

But winger Ezequiel Barco, centerback Miles Robinson, goalkeeper Brad Guzan and fullback George Bello are also among the players who have returned from international duty in the last couple weeks.

Atlanta have created more expected goals (xG) than their opponents in four of their five games under Valentino, a stark turnaround from the season xG totals overall.

And the disparity in the lone exception to that trend could be partially explained by the fact Atlanta spent 55 of 90 minutes in front in their 3-2 loss at Orlando, meaning it was the Lions who had to chase the game.

LAFC Struggle to Overcome Defecits

The Black-and-Gold have found themselves down two goals within the opening half hour in their two most-recent defeats.

Perhaps some of that owes to the loss of centerback Eddie Segura for the season to an ACL tear in late July or the dealing away of defensive midfielder Mark-Anthony Kaye. Some of it was probably random chance.

Whatever the cause, it’s a bad formula for an LAFC side that appears to weaken as matches progress, having earned exactly one point in the six games where it has conceded first.

That makes sense if you consider how reliant they continue to be on Carlos Vela as their offensive creator.

The 2019 MVP has five goals and four assists this season, but at age 32, four of his goals have come before the halftime interval.

The addition of Colombian forward Cristian Arango in the international transfer market and American fullback Sebastian Ibeagha via trade from NYCFC should eventually make a difference, but it could take time.

Even with them, this is not one of the deeper rosters in MLS, even if their lofty difference of 12.5 more xG created than conceded suggests they should be several rungs higher than seventh in the Western Conference table entering the weekend.

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Betting Analysis & Pick

For all the exasperation over Atlanta’s struggles, they have still only suffered home defeat twice.

The first came to a New England side that has held the Eastern Conference lead for much of 2021. The second game to a Columbus team that was at the end of a run of earning 19 points in 10 matches.

If you believe Atlanta are in better form now than then, and accept that LAFC are experiencing a dip, the fact that the road team here is favored is confusing.

Giving LAFC +138 odds might not seem like a lot. But the average home MLS team wins roughly 50% of the time. So the implied 42% probability of +138 odds would be better suited to an Atlanta team that is at worst, one tier beneath LAFC in terms of quality.

In other words, take the home underdog here. If you’re nervous about Atlanta’s propensity to settle for draws, you can buy insurance with a draw-no-bet wager. And if you’re aggressive you might also bet Atlanta to take the lead and win in a game prop bet.

I’m more inclined to keep it simple with a money line wager at +180 odds and an implied 35.7% probability.

Pick: Atlanta United ML (+180)

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